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Russian Olives

2 Ratings: 3.5
A plant species of Elaeagnus native to western and central Asia, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to Turkey and Iran.

Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia, Russian Silverberry, or Oleaster) is a species of Elaeagnus, native to western and central Asia, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to Turkey and Iran.      It is a usually thorny shrub or small … see full wiki

Tags: Gardening, Plants, Russian Olives, Invasive Species, Hardy Trees, Darwinian Gardening
1 review about Russian Olives

Russian Olive: An Invasive Species That Is Worth Growing Anyway

  • Aug 4, 2009
  • by
To step outside one morning this summer was to step into cloud of warm air and the smell of Russian olives in bloom. Too bad there’s no scratch-and-sniff feature on the Internet so far, because it would be a pleasure to share it.

In this climate the smells of growing things are particularly welcome, after the long season of cold. The first is the damp smell of newly-bared earth, followed by what I can only qualify as a “green” smell. Not one plant is yet in bloom, but there is a soft, sweet smell in the air.

After that comes the heady scent of hyacinths (too strong a smell for me: I don’t plant them) as well as that of lilacs. Peonies are next, followed by  mock orange. Then comes  the Russian olive.  The one  on the corner becomes covered with small yellow flowers, disproportionately full of fragrance. In some places the tree or shrub is considered an invasive pest, but here the winters are so severe that their spread is kept in check, and we can enjoy the odd specimen that does survive.

Which leads me to think of other plants to grow for their smell:

Roses, of course; petunias; geraniums for the spicy scent of their leaves; clover and alfalfa in lawns for the delightful smell after they are cut; eucalyptus for the bracing scent of their leaves when walked upon on foggy days...

That last is a memory from my California childhood. I guess that, even though I wasn’t much interested in gardening then, the odors of growing things made their way into the deepest corner of my mind, like Proust’s madeleine.

Photo: University of Minnesota Extension.

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August 04, 2009
It is funny that you refer to Proust's madeleine when describing the eucalyptus in your olive review because we had an olive tree growing up and your review made me think vividly of that time period. Thanks
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